• North Coast Environment Council

    Formed in 1976, we are the peak umbrella environment group in northern NSW. We cover the area from the Hunter to the Tweed and west to the New England Highway. We also actively support other campaigns further afield. We receive no government funding and have no paid staff or central office. Our members and office-bearers work around the region, often travelling large distances to assist others as we organise in our defence of the environment and the communities it sustains. We rely on donations and the efforts of our members and volunteers, to remain effective. If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to assist us with our work, we guarantee plenty of bang for your buck. Post us a message to this site and we will get back to you.
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The Environmental Vandalism begins…

Grey Nurse Shark with hook in the eye

“The removal of protection regulations for the endangered Grey Nurse Shark at Fish Rock and Green Island on the Mid North Coast of NSW is an act of environmental vandalism and immediately calls into question Premier O’Farrell’s statements that he would not wind back environmental protection in order to secure the votes of the Shooters and Fishers Party,”
1. claimed John Jeayes, Secretary of the North Coast Environment Council (NCEC).

“Fisheries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson has taken a leaf out of the Victorian Government’s handbook and made a decision akin to putting the cattle back in the Alpine National Park. She has put the fishers back in the protected zone while a 3 month review of the science and social and commercial implications is carried out.

Fish Rock is the largest aggregation site for the endangered grey nurse shark on the east coast of Australia and is zoned critical grey nurse shark habitat based upon scientific studies
showing around 1500 of these sharks remain on the east coast where 5000 is the minimum for a species to be considered viable. The species is not considered dangerous.

“Fish Rock is also where there has been the most numerous sightings of sharks with embedded hooks visible. It is also recorded in the recent CMA sponsored scientific study by the Marine Park Authority as the hotspot for the vulnerable black cod,” Mr Jeayes said.

John Jeayes, who has dived at Fish Rock with the now Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner said the regulations preventing fishing with bait, live bait and jigs were instigated after representations to the then Labor Minister for Fisheries, Mr Steve Whan, by the then Shadow Deputy Premier, Andrew Stoner.

“A perfect storm of protest followed whipped up by the curiously named ECOfishers and the Shooters Party saw the votes on offer and quickly changed their name. The then shadow minister, Duncan Gay, matched the rhetoric and claimed that marine parks were based on “voodoo science” and that the Coalition would remove the new protections within 6 days
of taking office.

“The ECOfishers state that they do not target grey nurse sharks but it has been proven by NSW Fisheries that the sharks will take bait, live bait and suffer hooking through jigs and soft plastics. We can show you dozens of photos, many taken at Fish Rock, showing that hooks are a major threat to this threatened species. There is no ‘magic hook’ that doesn’t work on non-target species. If you put live bait in front of a shark or a black cod it will grab it without hesitation.

“Proper scientific method would demand the three month study be conducted first and then the regulations changed if necessary. But to throw away the protections advised by our top marine scientists and to allow three more months of injury to an endangered species is
morally wrong and scientifically flawed. It indicates to the environmental movement that Katrina Hodgkinson has already made up her mind on the outcome of the independent scientific review of the independent science already conducted.

“Marine Parks and protection of the endangered species under Fisheries control should be placed under the control of the Minister for Environment not under Minister Hodgkinson with the conflict of the Fisheries portfolio when she has shown she has no idea of proper
scientific method or care for endangered species,” Mr Jeayes said.



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